How to Utilize Proper Keyword Density

Utilizing your keyword density in the correct way can help with search rankings.

In 2011, keyword density was hugely popular. Marketers believed that incorporating the correct number of keywords into a piece of content would increase search rankings. many SEOs believed the perfect keyword density was between was somewhere between three and five percent. And this method of keyword density worked well until 2013, when Google released its Hummingbird algorithm update. The Hummingbird algorithm was different from previous updates in that it focused on semantic search rather than keyword density. So, what does this mean for today’s keyword density?

Semantic Search

With the rise of voice-activated search applications like Siri and Cortana, the structure of searches entered into Google changed. Instead of typing “restaurants in Baltimore”, there were an increasing number of searches that were more detailed, like “What are the best Thai food restaurants in Baltimore?” These progressively more involved queries made it clear that keyword density was no longer as effective at ranking the right pages. Thus, semantic search was born.

With more complicated searches came a more complicated search algorithm. The new algorithm puts less of an emphasis on keyword density and more of an emphasis on content that can meet the user’s needs.

How to Use Keyword Density Today

Just because there is no longer as much of an emphasis on keyword density doesn’t mean that keywords aren’t relevant at all. Keywords are still a great way to discern user intent. However, rather than focusing on keyword density, we should be focusing on keyword usage to create content that better appeals to the needs of users. Here are a few ways to create interesting content that both incorporates keywords and caters to semantic search.


  • User Experience. Rather than repeating the same key phrase over and over until it sounds unnatural, use your key phrases sparingly and focus instead on creating content that is easy to read and flows well.
  • Provide User Context. Semantic search uses a complicated ranking algorithm to find content that is useful for the user experience. This algorithm focuses on words the give the keyword meaning more than the actual keyword itself. Create content that will be more likely to answer user questions, and your content will be more likely to rank higher as well.
  • Natural Synonyms. Keyword stuffing is a practice to be avoided; using the same keyword too many times can get your content flagged as spam. Varying your keywords by using natural synonyms is a great way to make your content more readable as well as more rankable.


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